Thousands cheer frigate Hermione

The Hermione flies the flag - Photo: Francis Latreille/Association Hermione

Replica leaves La Rochelle for the Charente and her departure across the Atlantic on Saturday

THOUSANDS of well-wishers are expected to line the shores at La Rochelle this afternoon as the three-masted frigate Hermione leaves port for the Charente and Saturday’s departure across the Atlantic.

The Hermione is a full replica of the ship that took General Lafayette to America in 1780 to join the American War of Independence. She leaves La Rochelle today for the Ile d'Aix between 14.30 and 15.00.

Her trip to the Charente estuary under skipper Yann Cariou is to let her stretch her legs and prepare the crew of 56 volunteers and 17 professional sailors for the transatlantic voyage.

We have a full interview with skipper Yann Cariou
in this month's issue of The Connexion
You can buy a pdf download version here for €3.50

On Saturday she will leave Port-des-Barques – where Lafayette boarded on March 10, 1780 – with crowds expected to hit 100,000 cheering her on her way on the 27-day transatlantic crossing to Yorktown, Virginia.

On her original voyage the Hermione took part in the blockade that led to the surrender of Lord Cornwallis and his army.

Saturday’s events will start with President Hollande and ministers presenting Commandant Yann Cariou with the a replica of the Declaration of Human Rights at 14.00 to take to the US. Hermione will leave the Ile d'Aix and head up the Charente, arriving at Soubise around 18.00.

After a display at Soubise she will head back downriver, reaching Port-des-Barques around 19.15 and finally the Ile d'Aix again at 20.30 before a fireworks display at 22.00 and her final departure.

The fireworks display promises to be spectacular with a 360-degree show over seven different venues – and four tonnes of pyrotechnics. Find the full programme of events as a downloadable pdf here.

L'#Hermione reprend la mer aujourd'hui et quitte #larochelle entre 14h30 et 15h ! #hermione2015 pic.twitter.com/bVwgBUbuwZ— L'Hermione (@LHERMIONE_SHIP) April 15, 2015

Once she reaches Virginia after a stop at Las Palmas in the Canary Islands the Hermione will head up the coast, calling at Annapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Greenport, Newport, Boston, Castine and then Lunenberg/Halifax, Nova Sciotia before heading back to France.

The trip will be the culmination of 18 years of work since her construction started at Rochefort in 1997.

On Sunday, a replica of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan’s Nao Victoria will sail down the Charente to tie up at Rochefort, where she will be open until July. Magellan captained the 1519 expedition that first circumnavigated the Earth.

To check the Hermione’s position at sea, check the Marine Traffic site here at www.marinetraffic.com then click "Dernière position reçue"

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